Raph Sark
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Re-introduce Cut-Off Point of Agg 25 for Free SHS Beneficiaries; Point View of an Educationist


The 2021 School Placement can be the starting point for the reintroduction of aggregate 25 as the Cut-Off Point to help the government cut down on its education expenditure. All education-related scholarships are awarded to brilliant students or those who have proven that given the chance and support they can do well. These are the kind of students that the country must invest its scarce resources on.

The government had announced its intentions to review its flagship policies including Free SHS and doing it during the 2021 School Placement will not be a bad idea.
Although the government has not explained exactly what it means by review, the free SHS has seen weak students who obtained an aggregate of 31-48 gain admission into Senior High School since 2017. Sadly, we do not have national data on students to find out how well students have performed at the WASSCE from the first batch of Free SHS graduates.
If we can identify the 1st and 2nd batch of WASSCE graduates of the Free SHS and BECE results they obtained and their WASSCE results, we can be able to make meaning from the data whether students who are obtaining grades 26 to 48 are actually passing the WASSCE or not.
This data can inform government decisions. For now, there are no scientific means of measuring and matching the aggregate obtained by each BECE candidate and what they obtained after WASSCE. This means that whatever success we seem to be achieving at the WASSCE under Free SHS has not been scientifically well-thought-out and analyzed results for decision-making.
WAEC needs to provide breakdowns on a subject-by-subject basis for BECE results just as it does for WASSCE so that we can make the relevant analysis and interpret the data from bot results for the same students after they have completed SHS and their WASSCE results are released.
The fact that for instance, 62% of candidates who sat for WASSCE passed in Mathematics for instance does not make complete scientific science in that, we have failed to match the results of this 62% at the BECE to the WASSCE to see whether they passed BECE or not. Date and data analysis is driving decision-making globally however, in Ghana we are still using simple percentages and aggregates to make decisions.
The introduction of Free SHS also saw a decline in student performance, with the 2021 results being the worse in recent times.
Due to the absence of the usual cut-off point, candidates who prepare for the exam seem to relax their efforts.
The reintroduction of the cut-off point will ensure the scarce resources of the nation are used to sponsor the education of those who passed.
Why invest in students who fail the BECE, many of whom end up failing the WASSCE as well.

In an attempt to review the policy, the following may be considered.

1. GES must reintroduce the cut-off point of aggregate 25 for Free SHS and 50% fee-paying for those who make an aggregate 26-30. The rest must resit the papers they failed and make at least 30 to start Free SHS.
2. The government may have to scrap the Free School Feeding Programme so that parents feed their wards at school by paying the appropriate fees for feeding.
3. Cost-sharing in the cost of students’ clothing needs to be introduced. If government provides the main school uniform and textbooks, parents provide the rest, eg. Other textbooks, Housedress and Jerseys
4. Reintroduce PTAs and allow their full operation to support the various schools.
5. Or let parents pay half of their wards’ Education cost at the SHS level.
A combination of two or more of these will earn the government some savings.

n a related development, the 2021 School Placement for BECE graduates has been delayed for nearly another week and the question we are asking is “Are we delaying the release to achieve quality?” If yes, then the wait is worth it. Students and parents have become overly anxious and impatient because the placement has been delayed.



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